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A Memo on the Opening of Deering Library

Today, Northwestern University opens the main doors of Deering Library for the first time in 42 years. The library, or sadbrary if you will, would like you to believe that this is an event to be received with joy, laughter, puppies, Jennifer Lawrence and Pippa Middleton making out. But NO. First off, at least 4 of those things are not allowed in the library. Second, DEERING LIBRARY IS NOT YOUR LIBRARY, STUDENTS OF NORTHWESTERN. It is the book-lending equivalent of a FALSE IDOL. This literary/digital multimedia usurper threatens to undermine the very notion of the modern Northwestern experience. RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE EVERYONE TO DEERING. Wait. Shit.

You should always be wary when a powerful institution claims to be redressing grievances temporarily relocating domestic threats reopening areas once accessible to the public. Said institution is probably selling the reopening as a “gift to the people” in order to avoid revealing the truth behind that area’s seclusion. In truth, that area was probably used to cover up something horrifyingly heinous, like when the school commissioned Ross Packingham to create the Sistine Chapel’s equivalent of a race controversy mural. Or perhaps the public ALWAYS had access to that area. They probably just had to take a secret route to get there, or were not allowed in that room on certain days or at certain hours, or perhaps that area simply did not have any widely useful aspect to it besides its aesthetic appeal. And maybe, just maybe, that area was once a hard-to-reach functionally-redundant locale simply in order to increase its appeal as a place of peace and solitude. To open it up now is to open all those old wounds, and then cram those wounds full of freshmen excited about the nostalgia of a Hogwarts-esque area to study. Seriously guys, we already have the Great Room.

And what of Main Library proper? I will tell you what I think of when I think of Northwestern’s TRUE library. I think of timeless, majestic, incredibly ugly 70’s architecture that’s seemingly inspired by Darth Vader’s Imperial Star Destroyer—and that is just as attractive inside as well. I think of an out-of-the-way entrance that does not quite accommodate the flow of student traffic—just enough to let people in, but not enough to get them in quickly or comfortably. I think of an indoor temperature that ranges from 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit (FUCK YOU KELVIN) in some places, and 85 to 100 degrees in other places, but never anything close to in between. I think of distracting interior odors that vary between Joy Yee’s, Buff Joe’s, Mount Everest, and Norris sushi, depending on where you settle down to study and in what company. I think of wide panorama windows that evidently have not been cleaned since, well, the Deering Library entrance was closed. I think of chairs that are at that remarkable height where you’re too short to put your elbows on the table, but too tall to really take advantage of bad posture habits. I think of an Info Commons that has all the soullessness and incredibly depressing lighting of a corporate cubicle area. I think of a printing/scanning process that has been changed approximately 673 times in 2 years, increasing in painfulness and frustration-ness logarithmically with each go(does that make sense? I haven’t done math in 4 years. YAY DISTROS). I think of a thoughtful, labyrinth layout, in which 3 towers, placed seemingly at random, help distract students from noticing that the fourth tower—where Chet Haze shoots his rap videos—is absent from all maps and floor plans.[1] That is MY Northwestern library, dear Wildcats, and if you have attended this school in the last 42 years, then it is YOUR library as well.

So take today’s opening as you will. You can praise it as a godsend to those who hate Main, as the ruination of yet another poorly-kept Northwestern secret, or as a relatively inconsequential change to NU’s ever-changing landscape. Whatever it is, one thing is for sure: Main library sucks ass.


The Commandant

[1] Also, it is total bullshit when you have a discussion section in one of the Library’s towers.

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